George Washington University
George Washington University - Comments and Student Experiences|
Despite spending years experiencing my major (studying and executing), there was no hope for research here at GWU CS. Other than one professor (who is not funded as much as he should be), every single instructor/professor did not even bother looking at my resume (which is far from bare) before rejecting my offer to collaborate with them (even for free). I received condescending responses such as "Oh, in a couple of years once you have the knowledge you should ask around" (again, with no frame of reference other than that I am a freshman). Later I would find out that the other undergraduates that were offered research positions were either given trivial opportunities by the department (Java UI design for example) or were thrown to dying projects (funding ending or swindled). Staff members who noted lack of research at GWU are usually attacked by their own department heads or the school of engineering (and this has happened before).
My advisor? Other than staining my reputation in the department, was of no help whatsoever. This same advisor dropped my grade from the highest of the class to a C in his introductory CS class (he allowed other students to turn in a project he literally, lost, with an exception for me). A friend of mine literally provided a back-up of the project 2 days after me, and had his grade redeemed. I did not argue for my grade, as I have no interest in trouble. The professor, again, with 0 interest in any of my background or personal goals, would not allow me to take my choice of classes. He would enforce a specific schedule without question. One time I grew tired of his relentless badgering and disregard of my personal career goals that I insisted I take one class (which I had instructor approval for), the advisor *literally* started screaming at me (I requested for this class only twice during the discussion). I did not shoot down his unearned ego, I am not looking for trouble. I did ask for an advisor switch, which lead only to me being referred back to my advisor. The advisor responded to my request by reporting me to others in the department as "trouble". Another student, years ago, had made a complaint against the professor as being racist. I didn't really care. Some students have found values in their advisors, I am reporting simply on personal experience here.
Classes? Mostly instructors not familiar with subject matter (excepting 3 professors, and 1 instructor outside the department). These are professors that know their books but have no idea how specific technologies are actually applied in the real world (imagine a mechanical engineer that can tell you how a specific motor can be built in his frame of reference but cannot tell you where this motor is actually useful). Anyone can read a book, I'm not paying to listen to a person's regurgitation of a book. In computer science, in higher education, valuable knowledge comes from *experienced* individuals (the experienced are much better with articulating). Professors with this lack of knowledge do inevitably end up providing *a lot* of busy work. So much, that social life will almost definitely be consumed. Very few high quality classes in CS, be warned.
Community? For those aspiring scientists, engineers and hackers hoping to build an educating social circle... do not get your hopes up. Due to the amount of busy work in this department, you'll generally find that others cannot dedicate time for interesting time-consuming extra-curricular projects. If you are a geek however, and find value simply in individuals who do stroll with "geek culture", you might find something.
My advice is simple, if you're willing to slither your way to a degree with busy-work and cheating for only the sake of the degree, by all means come here. If you expect to gain insight and appreciation into the true values of computer science and the culture behind it, don't expect to find it here. Rare it is that a class will challenge you with real problems (even the traditional ones). If you're looking for real research opportunities, you'll also find the CS department unwilling to accommodate for you, most likely.
I was once an extremely motivated student, with a real appreciation for academia and the values it entailed. The years spent here have changed my outlook completely. I did not find the great mentors with strong personalities. I did not find the community that would allow for computer science to swallow my life (yes, I was willing to do this). I was not even provided the simple freedoms to be able to do the type of extra-curricular work I am interested in (and for this, I have looked outside the curriculum which has caused my grades to suffer). I have even experienced the corruption of the academic system (internals of research funding and allocation, propaganda and more).
Some of these problems administration itself has mentioned to me before and is constantly working on improving. So please, do give GWU a look but remember -- be objective. Their website is, obviously, propaganda and not an objective source of information. Also note that many of the more positive reviews posted here are not from Computer Science degree seekers.On the non-academic side...social life. If you like drugs, you will find them easily available. If you're not into drugs, yes, you will also find many people who are either anti-drugs or simply, not into exploiting illegal substances. Greek life? It is actually very big here at GWU. If you want to join a fraternity, you'll find it easy. Night life? DC is not a cultural capital or anything like that (it's a transition city). However, you'll find many mediocre night clubs around here. There are decent hookah bars in Virginia, no good ones in DC. Into practicing sports? The gym is great, and it should accommodate almost all your needs (except if you're into martial arts). Religious? There is a student group for you, if not at least a social niche. Racist? You'll find friends easily in this hyper-segregated university community and this city. If you're looking for breadth (not necessarily depth) in friendship, you'll easily find this at GWU.
The freshmen dorms are disgusting especially for such a hefty price, and the Vern campus is a waste of space since NO ONE wants to live there.
Even so, the Elliott School has great events and the city itself is great, but AVOID GW! I even work for the university and would NOT recommend it to a good friend.
On a more academic side, the classes should have been more challenging and the teachers more engaged with their students. No one takes GW seriously as I skipped the last half of one of my classes and still got at A! Also the food plan at the dining hall is overpriced. So don't go here.